Carol Schuldt Interview, Page 2

Introduction | Schuldt interview, page 1 | Schuldt Interview, page 2

Conducted as part of Tales from Kelly's Cove, by Western Neighborhoods Project, May 9, 2013.

[Read the beginning of the Carol Schuldt interview]

LaBounty: Well, tell me about the – while we’re talking about it, tell me about this great house. When did you guys move in?

Schuldt: Fifty years ago, Tambi bought the house when he was just a kid!

LaBounty: Fifty years ago! Wow!


Colorful house of Carol Schuldt at Ocean Beach in 2009. - WNP Collection

Schuldt: Fifty years ago we lived down the street, Woody, in an old, old Victorian house. This has all been chopped down, of course, and the landlords loved us because they loved the kids. I had beautiful children, right? They’d go, ‘buy the house, buy the house’ and we’d go, ‘no, no, no.’ So one day Tambi comes home. He goes, ‘what kind of house do you like?’ I go, ‘Tambi, I don’t – I’m too busy watching the kids.’ But the main thing I told him, I said, ‘I need a kitchen overlooking a garden east so the sun comes in.’ He goes down the street, he comes home, he goes, ‘I just bought the house.’ I go, ‘what house?’ He goes, ‘down the street.’ I go, ‘what?’ I come here and go, ‘Tambi, it’s too big.’ He goes, ‘no, it’s good as a big house.’ (Laughs).

LaBounty: How many kids did you have at the time?

Schuldt: We had two children.

LaBounty: So, how much did it cost to buy a house fifty years ago?

Schuldt: $38,000.

LaBounty: Wow! What a deal!

Schuldt: He raked all our money up. I had some money, Tambi had the money, his grandmom gave money. I had some money. We bought the house and the payments were Pan American Bank was only about $250 a month. (Laughs).

LaBounty: And that would have been the early ‘60’s? Something like that?

Schuldt: Yeah, yeah.

LaBounty: The memories you put into this house, being here fifty years and…

Schuldt: Ohhhh, that’s why it looks the way it does, Woody. I’m so happy, thanks to Tambi.

LaBounty: Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s really a neat place. I mean, it’s like a landmark on the beach now, too.

Schuldt: Oh, everyone comes out. I have – the other day – this is interesting, Woody, a black car came real slow, fancy car, and these people got out – they were all Muslims – and they went and they took pictures and they waved and they were happier than hell and they came and they don’t like pictures! I guess they were Americanized, you know! They came and they took pictures all over, me and everything. I have all kinds of people stopping from all over the world.

LaBounty: It’s very neat. It’s a very neat place. I was thinking of the crowd at Kelly’s –you brought your kids out there I guess.

Schuldt: I raised my kids on the beach, yeah.

LaBounty: And, what did they think of that? Did they enjoy having that?

Schuldt: Oh yeah, yeah.

LaBounty: It’s funny to be living in a big city, but to have such a natural…

Schuldt: Well, they didn’t feel the city that much, you know, we were always outdoors. I have a garden, you know. They had all kinds of different friends, you know. All those old people from all over the world.

LaBounty: Yeah, and did the people going to Kelly’s – what kind of work did they do? Did they have jobs?

Schuldt: Yeah, there was a policeman, Johnny Quarts. Johnny Pints – I forgot – I think he worked on the waterfront, I think. A lot of people worked on the waterfront in those days – and gardeners. Yeah.

LaBounty: I was just thinking what kind of job you’d have to have to be able to go the beach during the day.

Schuldt: Well, they’d come after work, you know. Or on the weekend. All the older people had jobs. The young people – I don’t know. They were all – what were they? Oh, most of them were taxicab [drivers]! (Laughs). And that created that union. The Display Union. They got in that one.

LaBounty: In the which one? The…

Schuldt: The Display Union [Sign Display & Allied Crafts Local Union 510]. It’s a unionized display for the Convention Center. They all went there and then from the taxi job they went there, because –510! Local 510. They went there so that they could – that’s just a phone job at random, so that’s the answer there, Woody.

LaBounty: That’s how they had the free time to get out there.

Schuldt: A lot of them were [house] painters. A lot of them were painters, so they had their own business. They did all that hard work, yeah.

LaBounty: I’ve seen some video footage of you skateboarding up there. I was thinking what kinds of things people do – I mean, there’s surfing, there’s bodysurfing, there’s sunbathing – you were skateboarding. I think I’ve seen, also, video of Jack O’Neill had some sort of like sail thing on the beach.

Schuldt: Right, right. He was so inventive.

LaBounty: I was just wondering what kinds of things people did out there. Was there a lot of drinking and partying going on out there too?

Schuldt: Well, one group of kids sniffed glue on the wall. We never – that’s the wall. That’s a different territory. We were by… They were at the steps. We were way over north – more of a north to the Cliff House. They would sniff glue, yeah. And that was the only bad thing I think. Then heroin came in in the ‘60’s. It was a small, small group of that. But, I never saw – just a couple of drunks. Most of them were. Yeah.

LaBounty: Car culture. I mean, people like car clubs or racing cars on Great Highway?

Eric Ollson and Carol Schuldt at the Kelly's Cove wall, 1970s. - Photograph by Dennis O'Rorke

Schuldt: Nothing like that, Woody, no. There was the Hare Krishna people that we used to march up and down the sidewalk with their umbrellas and that was popular. Everyone was interested in spirituality, so they went to India. A lot of our friends went to India to get enlightened and the Hare Krishna would march up and down the sidewalk.

LaBounty: Well, what would you say about enlightenment, nature, and all that? You’re living in a big city and you’re living on the sand and the ocean and the water. Did you feel like there was some kind of spiritual thing to being out there?

Schuldt: Oh yeah. We had it all figured out, because I hung out with all the intellectuals, you know? All the Berkeley people at Aquatic Park. I’d go there when it was foggy. So, all the intellectuals hung out there, so I got to know about [P.D.] Ouspensky and all that, you know, the Berkeley people. [George] Gurdjieff was popular.

LaBounty: Do you feel like there was any connection between the beach and the Haight and North Beach and the beatniks and the hippies? It was kind of separate.

Schuldt: No, that’s totally separate. Totally separate, Woody. Oh yeah.

LaBounty: That’s what interests me because it’s sort of like its own counterculture.

Schuldt: Right. Right at that point.

LaBounty: The beach – but it’s separated from these other ones that everybody knows about, you know.

Schuldt: Yes.

LaBounty: Kind of interesting to me.

Schuldt: Yeah, that’s true.

LaBounty: Did you ever go to Fleishhacker Pool?

Schuldt: Oh yeah. All the time. My mother used to dive off the high dive. That’s when I was real little and then when I had a – I had high school friends who used to be divers off that horrifying diving board and our Hawaiian friends who got kicked out of Hawaii were all lifeguards. The city didn’t know… There was no jails in Hawaii, so they’d throw them – they’d go, go to the United States. So they got a job with the city (laughs) being lifeguards. So, we had lots of Hawaiian friends.

LaBounty: Yeah, Eddie Akini and Cliff Kamaka, I guess? I talked to some people about this aloha spirit and how the Hawaiian lifeguards brought a lot of that out here.

Schuldt: Oh, they did. They did.

LaBounty: People played music at the beach. Were there drums or ukuleles or anything like that ever went on that you remember?

Schuldt: Noooo… No. That was – that’s before our – that was maybe in the ‘30’s and ’40’s. These kids were – some of them were borderline drug addicts, you know what I mean (laughing)? The ‘60’s was a lot of drugs. None of that good old-fashioned stuff.

LaBounty: And what about women? Was it a split? Were there a lot of women out there too or were you kind of in the minority?

Schuldt: Yeah, uh huh, a lot of… There was The Marionettes. They came out. Sally, Shelly. They did the aqua ballet.

LaBounty: Really?

Schuldt: Yeah, it was called The Marionettes, I think. They did this beautiful aqua ballet and they were out there. A lot of girls loved to body surf, yeah.

LaBounty: Okay. I’d like to meet – I’d like to interview some more women about it out there.

Schuldt: Right, yeah, you could interview Shelly, who just phoned. I’ll give you her number.

LaBounty: That would be great. Well, in general, what would you say is the legacy of Kelly’s? I mean, how has it changed? I know you were talking about it changed a little bit. How has it changed? How is it different now that it was?

Schuldt: It hasn’t changed a little. It’s changed – it’s not Kelly’s anymore. Nobody even knows Kelly’s.

LaBounty: When did it stop?

Schuldt: It’s covered with sand, like in the desert. So, nothing – there’s no spirit there at all. Except when it rains – a funny thing happens when it rains. For some strange reason, when the weather is foul – I will walk from here to Kelly’s – and on the sidewalk will be a lot of old friends. Isn’t that funny?

LaBounty: The rain brings them out somehow?

Schuldt: Reminiscing. Looking over the wall the way it used to be. Pee Wee, Joey Valera, all those kids. We all kind of go there in bad weather and reminisce how it used to be. Yeah. No, there’s not a clue. There’s not anything left, Woody.

LaBounty: When do you think it ended? Or when was it roughly – time wise – that you think it stopped being Kelly’s?

Schuldt: Well, when Pete got hit by a car. [Carol's son Peter was struck and almost killed by an automobile when he was three years old.]

LaBounty: For you.

Schuldt: Well, no, that was for everybody. Everything changed when Pete got hit and that was – God –Peter is forty-five and he got hit when he was three.

LaBounty: So, forty-two years ago.

Schuldt: Yeah. So, it gradually went to hell. All of the wetsuits, cell phone, cars, no fires on the… Oh, the government. The government bought the beach. The city used to own the beach and the cops were scared of us. (Laughs). They’d come down on a horse and they’d just look at us and go back and then the government came – no fires. We had a goofy guy, Louie. Poor Louie. He was – and he would report us. He had problems. And, so that’s the story there, Woody.

LaBounty: Yeah, so, when the GGNRA [Golden Gate National Recreation Area] took over and they banned fires…

Schuldt: We predicted – that’s it.

LaBounty: That was it.

Schuldt: No fire. No spirit. How could you go in the… Of course, a wetsuit, so nobody could get together.

LaBounty: Yeah, because in the old days you didn’t have a wetsuit – you’d have to get out of the water pretty frequently, right?

Schuldt: Yes, get next to that fire.

LaBounty: Right, and once people had the wetsuits they could stay in a long time then and…

Schuldt: Oh yeah, and nobody cares about anybody. You never in a million years would hear a kid go, ‘you take the next wave.’ That’s… Come on. (Laughs). They don’t care. People are impersonal now. It’s all a mechanical world now.

Carol Schuldt bodysurfing in 2011. - Photograph by Tommy Bensko

LaBounty: But don’t you – you still draw a lot of younger people who you’re friends with out here, though, right? ‘Cause it seems like there’s a new wave of younger people kind of hanging out out here.

Schuldt: Oh, there’s artists. There’s artists and they come by and then I let them – like Jay [Nelson]– I’m in the Berkeley Museum, you know, from a painting that a kid did here. Jay. They’re all from LA. They’re about – what – sixty years younger than me and I let them go downstairs and have the studio and they – they’re successful, yeah, these kids. Young, you know. They own that surf shop up there.

LaBounty: I also heard you inspired a pretty famous rock song.

Schuldt: Oh, Green-Eyed Lady. Yeah, that one! (Laughs).

LaBounty: You think that’s true? You think you were the inspiration for it?

Schuldt: Oh, I don’t know… It sure is my description. I’ll tell you that. (Laughs). And, of course, when I got in the newspaper that big thing, the "Benevolent Queen of the Beach," [title of a San Francisco Chronicle article on Carol] yeah there we go! Queen of the Beach! (Laughs).

LaBounty: That’s a good title for you.

Schuldt: (Laughs) Thanks, Woody.

LaBounty: Yeah, everybody knows you’re out here and your house is so striking.

Schuldt: It jumps out at you, doesn’t it? Oh, the tourists too. A lot of tourists would click. They’d have the cameras and they’d take pictures of me and the kids and I was the first one to - breastfeeding in my day was not in the style. They’d say, ‘don’t breastfeed. It’s the worst thing you could do.’ But I put a towel, of course, over me – I breastfed my kids and nudity! My kids would run around with no clothes and the people in those days, Europeans loved San Francisco, there were a lot of Europeans would come and they’d come down and they’d go, ‘oh, look at these beautiful children. Ohhh…’ So, that was fun too.

LaBounty: And you would occasionally take off some of your clothes and enjoy the sunshine.

Schuldt: Oh, at the pretty place, I do go to the beach. I used to go in the water. I’d throw my clothes off and go in.

LaBounty: Yeah, it’s sort of like a progressive way of thinking of things.

Schuldt: Yeah, I've gotten – made unusual friends down there too. Way down, you know, Fort Funston.

LaBounty: In your secret beach, right?

Schuldt: My secret beach.

LaBounty: And then Playland closed, I guess, too. That was probably kind of…

Schuldt: Oh, that was terrible.

LaBounty: …an end of an era, I guess.

Schuldt: Well, not only that, the Sutro’s [Baths] burned up. They blamed it on us. Anyway, they paid for it – the insurance. But anyway, they burned it. The Sutros burned it.

Oh, that was terrible, yeah, that was terrible. No Sutros and no Playland. That’s over, you know. And then we were there when they were building those condominiums – those horrible condominiums and a lot of people don’t know, but there’s a spring underneath there and that thing is going to sink. There is a beautiful spring and there was a curse on that place because there was a man that’s a cursor – a man got killed there when he was on his big equipment. He got killed there and there is a beautiful spring that they have covered up there and it was for sale for many, many years. It was all cyclone fence there and you have to understand and all the birds and the ducks went there, that spring came out. There’s a spring underneath there – alluvial, yeah.

LaBounty: What’s the story you’ve heard about why it was named Kelly’s?

Schuldt: Oh yeah. Well, the Kelly’s died in the cove. It exposed them. In our day, all the sand – it was a different sand structure there. But, he died there.

LaBounty: There was a man named Kelly.

Schuldt: I think in the Depression. Before our time, but that handed down. Kelly died in the cove. So you could live there in those days. The police wouldn’t, you know, it was owned by the city and police, they didn’t want to come down there and bother anybody down there.

LaBounty: So, there was a guy named Kelly who was…

Schuldt: A guy named Kelly and he passed on in the Kelly’s, in the cove there, and they named it Kelly’s Cove. Isn’t that a kick?

LaBounty: I want to get the name back out there. I want people to know that again. A lot of people don’t.

Schuldt: Yeah, a lot of people don’t know.

LaBounty: And then, last, I guess – the Cliff House – did you ever visit?

Schuldt: Oh yeah, I went with my grandmother to the old one. [Talking about Sutro Baths here.] It was all the birds, stuffed birds. It was unbelievable and all pools. I was with my grandmother when I was little. What a gorgeous place and they wouldn’t keep it up. That gorgeous place. They burned the place down. What a horrible – what a landmark that was gone.

LaBounty: Yeah. Well, this has been great. Is there anything else that you would like to say about Kelly’s that you want to get on the record or that you want to kind of get out there?

Schuldt: Well, I just am thankful that I was born at that time, Woody, and I had such wonderful friends out there. And it’s still beautiful. It’s gorgeous, you know. But, it was a community feeling, you know, and I’m thankful, again, that I was at that time at that place.

[End of interview]

Introduction | Schuldt interview, page 1 | Schuldt Interview, page 2




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